Is the Census Bureau inflating participation rates in Florida?
The following story from keysnet.com makes us wonder if participation rates from the Census Bureau are truly accurate (or inflated as the story suggests). If any statisticians or Census Bureau officials reading this want to chime in, please do so in the comments section.
Census sending enumerators back to the Keys
By RYAN McCARTHY
It’s safe to say U.S. Census Bureau officials and Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers disagree on just how many Keys residents have been counted for the 2010 tally.
Census officials have been touting return rates as high as 97.5 percent in the Keys, which raised Carruthers’ — and others’ — suspicion. She put out a call on Thursday asking those not counted to contact her office.
That 97.5 percent figure appears to be inflated.
“We have an amazing number of people calling saying they haven’t been counted. Some say their whole neighborhood; some say [a census taker] left a note on their door and never came back,” Carruthers said.
She’d heard enough, and asked Marilyn Stephens, Census Bureau partnership specialist for South Florida, to address the County Commission this Wednesday in Key Largo.
“Maybe this will light a fire under them and they’ll go back out and count some of these,” Carruthers said.
Similarly high return rates — 87 percent countywide and 99 percent in Key West — were reported in April, but it was later determined that the Census Bureau was pulling those numbers from two select groups of people: Military personnel and the handful of Monroe residents who live on the mainland.
Carruthers has been trumpeting the importance of the census since well before it started on March 22. Return rates in Monroe County during the 2000 census were poor, which affected the amount of state and federal grant dollars the Keys received.
Returns were so poor, in fact, that the Census Bureau implemented a hand enumeration program in the Keys. It hired hundreds of workers from the Keys and South Florida to visit residents door to door. In other areas of the country — and at Keys military bases and on mainland Monroe — people were mailed surveys and asked to fill them out and return them.
Census Bureau spokeswoman Helga Silva said she received word Friday that census workers will canvass the Keys one last time this weekend.
“Twenty-five to 30 enumerators will go down to the Keys this weekend to finish up the operation that stands at around 98 percent. They’re looking at around 100 houses,” Silva said.
Silva said anyone still not counted after this weekend can contact the Census Bureau office in Homestead at (305) 508-9300.
Wednesday’s commission meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the Murray E. Nelson Government & Cultural Center. Stephens is scheduled to speak at 2:45 p.m.